American in Spain

Talking on the phone with Abuela

February 3, 2012

Talking with abuela (thumbnail)I've been focusing lately on Nora's English, as my readers are more likely to understand her, but I thought I'd post some videos showcasing her Spanish development. One of Nora's favorite pastimes is talking on the phone with her abuela (Spanish grandmother). There are times when Nora is entertained with some other task and won't even take the phone, but there are other times where they have spoken for more than an hour, once to the point where Nora got a little hoarse. It's very much a stream of consciousness sort of conversation, with Nora at the helm, and her abuela interjecting comments here or there to keep up the flow, sticking around long after I would've bored of the conversation. The first video is from a few mornings ago. Nora talked quite a bit about her friends at daycare and about how some of them can reach the sink and use the bathroom by themselves and others cannot. Unfortunately that was before I got the camera. In this video, you can see a very minor manifestation of Nora's manipulative tactic that prolongs these calls; begging "Don't go!" when the person on the other end of the phone makes one of those, "Well, I've gotta…" comments that we all use to end conversations. Sometimes her dramatic performances make it seem like the person on the other end of the phone is breaking her heart by hanging up. She's got her Spanish grandmother and aunts wrapped around her little finger…as a little girl should.

She talks about taking her computer (she mispronounces ordenador as denador) to work, and also staying home to work like I do. She also mentions the "Mommy took a big bag of money from work!" allegation that I mentioned earlier, adding the spurious claim that her mother "hides her money on the floor under her computer". I did search for said treasure, but in the end, I had to conclude: Myth BUSTED. Her abuela playfully tries to get her to give up some of the riches, but Nora counters with evidence that her abuela already has money in her wallet.

Let me provide some context for the second video. Nora's abuela is currently out of work on medical leave because she has a problem with her knee, and she has to go to physical rehabilitation a couple times a week. Also, Nora went to the doctor yesterday with her mother because her mother's got an ear ache, so a lot of their conversation is about doctors and medicine.

They discuss las barracas, general term for carnival rides or booths that trucked into small towns in Spain during that town's holiday week. Nora remembers them well from the time she spent with her Spanish grandparents over the winter solstice holidays. Sometimes she likes to ride them, but she has a very low tolerance for noise and centripetal force.

At one point she switches gears to talk about Parchí­s, a Spanish board game that is a cousin of the game I know as Parcheesiâ„¢ (they share a common Indian ancestor), that Nora and her abuela like to play together.

Her gestures are so hilarious in this video. I'm sorry it's so long, but the cuteness refused to wane enough for me to stop recording or make an editing cut.

What blows me away most about the current stage of my daughter's mental development is just how observant she is at noticing causes and effects and intuiting the motivations behind the agents in her world. Of course she probably asked her mother "Why are we at a the doctor?" about seven hundred times when they were there, but she has understood the reasoning and generalized it to "when someone is sick or part of them hurts, they go to the doctor to get cured". The daycare workers tell us that her verbal and reasoning skills are considerably more advanced than her peers. And yet, her ability to identify colors, numbers or letters are at about the level of a sleepy dachshund. No doubt those abilities will arrive soon, but it's truly fascinating watching her develop. I'm enjoying every minute of it.